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Guatemala: Spring Break '10
Eleven students along with ECOS President Lauren DeLalla'11 and staff member Makenzie Schiemann traveled to Guatemala to perform service work at Comunidad Nueva Alianza. Comunidad Nueva Alianza is an organic coffee and macadamia plantation owned and operated by a cooperative of forty Guatemalan families, located in a sub-tropical area 1000 meters above sea level and 45 minutes north of the coastal town of Retalhuleu.
While at Alianza, the group assisted in furthering the farm's ecotourism program. An average day for the group consisted of waking up to the sunrise on the roof, roosters crowing, and cooking breakfast on the wood-burning stove. The work day began early as the group assisted in various tasks around the farm. One day was spent performing trail repair and another harvesting macadamia. The group's largest contribution was the amount of time and labor spent repainting Alianza's Eco-Hostel. The Eco-Hostel is the main source of tourism, education, and income for Alianza and was unfortunately falling into disrepair. Thanks to the group's efforts, the Eco-Hostel has now been weatherproofed, repainted, and repaired with cement; allowing Alianza to use the Hostel to benefit the mission of their program for many years to come.
In addition to the labor performed at Alianza the group also spent time playing soccer with the families and participating in the Holy Week of Semana Santa. Several group members also enjoyed their time with the Guatemalan women learning to make tortillas, tamales, and posadas.
To wrap up the week, the group spent the weekend of Easter in Antigua, a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Mudéjar-influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches. While in Antigua the group visited the churches, the local market and experienced the largely celebrated Semana Santa parade. As a final challenge, the group took part in a night climb of Pacaya, an active volcano which has been erupting for 23,000 years. Although the group gave their time and service, they ended up bringing back vast knowledge about coffee production, eco-tourism and the culture of rural Guatemala.